Now, distress sale of Pusa 1121 in Majha

After low rates of paddy, distress sale of Pusa-1121 basmati is now giving sleepless nights to the farmers in the Majha region. The basmati, sown largely in Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts, is finding no takers and farmers are being forced to either sell the produce at a much lower price as compared to last year or store the crop at home.

The farmers are blaming both the Union and state government for not fixing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of this variety. "Last year the price per quintal was between Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,500 so the farmers sowed the crop in large scale this season. But this year, the price has been not more than Rs 1,800- Rs 2,000," said Gurwinderpal Singh Dhillon, a farmer in Padhari Kalan village near Bhikhiwind in Tarn Taran.

Dhillon, who is harvesting 40 acres of 1121 basmati, said the government was hand in glove with the private rice shellers and marketing firms. "Private players are purchasing the produce at lower rates to sell it at higher rates later,"he said, adding that some farmers are also thinking of hoarding the produce.

"However, all the farmers do not have the resources to store the crops and have debts to pay," he said.

Kisan Sangrash Committee chief Satnam Singh Pannu and Jamhuri Kisan Union chief Rattan Singh Randhawa said the input cost of the crop was higher as farmers had to use diesel engines to irrigate the fields due to power shortage.

"The input cost has gone up by 25 per cent but prices have lowered by 30 per cent this year," said Pannu.Randhawa said the yield of the crop has also fallen by 15 per cent it was hit by blight disease."We have been asking the government to fix the MSP but it seems to be under the influence of powerful lobbies of the rice millers. If these distress sales continue, many farmers will be under debt," said Randhawa.

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